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Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003)

The Second Liberian Civil War was an intense four-year conflict that involved child soldiers on all sides and extensive civilian casualties. It was also one of the few civil wars that spread into neighboring countries, in this case, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The conflict began in April 1999 when a rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), with the support of the government of neighboring Guinea, began a military offensive to topple the government of President Charles Taylor. They quickly gained control over much of Northern Liberia.

The origin of the second civil war was rooted in the previous conflict waged between 1989 and 1996 which saw former rebel leader Charles Taylor become president of the entire nation, following UN-monitored elections in 1997. The country remained at peace only two years before LURD began its military campaign. Most of LURD were Mandingo and Krahn fighters led by Sekou Conneh. Many of them had been part of the rebel group, United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), which had fought in the first Liberian civil war against Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) as well as the government of President Samuel Doe.

In September 2000, to weaken support for the rebels from the government of Guinea and Sierra Leone which was now also supporting LURD, Taylor persuaded anti-government dissidents in both nations to form the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). They along with some of his paramilitary supporters began insurgencies and thus expanded the conflict to three nations. His action drew condemnation and opposition from the UN as well as support for Guinea and Sierra Leone from Great Britain and the United States.

By early 2002, LURD troops had outmaneuvered Taylor’s forces and were only about twenty-seven miles from Monrovia, the capital. Under leaders Conneh and Thomas Nimely, LURD troops mounted successful raids that bypassed government strongholds, and in May, they staged a bold attack on Arthington, less than twelve miles from

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